Definition of Aggravated Assault
As defined under Section 784.021, Florida Statutes, Aggravated Assault consists of four factual elements:
- The accused intentionally and unlawfully threatened, by word or act, to do violence to the alleged victim,
- At the time the threat was made, the accused appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat,
- The accused’s threat created in the mind of the alleged victim a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place, and
- The assault was made either with a deadly weapon or with a fully formed conscious intent to commit a felony.
Essentially, Aggravated Assault is an assault with an additional act consisting of the use of a deadly weapon or the intent to commit a felony.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault
In Florida, Aggravated Assault is a third degree felony, with penalties of up to 5 years in prison or 5 years probation, and a $5,000.00 fine. The range of punishments for the can increase substantially, to include mandatory prison of up to 20 years, where a firearm is discharged during the course of an incident.
Meaning of “Deadly Weapon”
For purposes of Florida’s Aggravated Assault statute, a “deadly weapon” is a weapon that is used or threatened to be used in a way that is likely to produce death or great bodily harm. The definition of deadly weapon is surprisingly broad. Some examples of acts that may constitute an aggravated assault in Florida include the following:
- a defendant waiving a pocket knife around while threatening to “poke” the alleged victim. J.M. v. State, 872 So. 2d 985 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004);
- the use of a beer bottle to strike the alleged victim on the head. Cloninger v. State, 846 So. 2d 1192 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003);
- driving a car towards police officers sitting in another vehicle, as if intending to make impact. Bryan v. State, 865 So. 2d 677 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004);
- making threats with a knife outside a car towards a person sitting inside of a car with a closed window. King v. State, 12 So. 3d 1271 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009).
Defenses to Aggravated Assault
Due to the subjective nature of the crime, as defined under Florida law, Aggravated Assault is often a highly defendable charge. It also defendable because of the absence of physical injuries and factual disputes that often exist as to how the alleged incident occurred. If you have been accused of Aggravated Assault in Florida, you may have defenses available to contest the charge or to minimize potential penalties. Contact our Jacksonville Criminal Attorney today for a free consultation